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Offshore Oil drilling, Belize

In reaction to the government stubbornness, in 2012 a Popular Referendum in Belice said No to the offshore oil drilling!


Since 2010, the government of Belize is granting oil concessions without carrying out any consultation with local communities. An example is the Sarstoon-Temash National Park case, which is affecting Mayan and Garifuna communities.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Offshore Oil drilling, Belize
State or province:70 kilometres off the coast of Belize
Location of conflict:Blue Hole
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Offshore Drilling Concessions in Belice. No more details were fund.

Project area:unknown
Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationUnknown
Affected Population:50,000
Start of the conflict:2011
Company names or state enterprises:Prince Petroleum from United Kingdom - owner
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MNRE), Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology and Public Utilities (MESTPU), Belize National Energy (BNE), Supreme Court, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:OCEANA, The Belize Coalition to Save Our National Heritage, Liberty and Action, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA),
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Mayan and Garifuna communities
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Referendum other local consultations
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Noise pollution
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Oil spills
Other Environmental impactsPotential: exploratory drilling can introduce mud into ecosystems, while seismic testing can disrupt dolphin communication and foraging via sonar
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:To continue with the fishing industry and the tourism industry.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:In 2012 a Popular Referendum in Belice said No to the offshore oil drilling. As well, in 2013 the Supreme Court of Belize ruled that all offshore oil contracts issued are null and void. And there is a moratoria for the offshore drilling.
Sources & Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Over 29,000 vote in Oceana’s Referendum
[click to view]

Offshore drilling moratorium remains, but for how long?
[click to view]

Petroleum Department’s proposed policy on offshore oil weak on data, details, potential damage
[click to view]

Results Of the People's Referendum Show Belizeans Are Against Offshore Drilling
[click to view]

"People's Referendum" A Success
[click to view]

Belize Supreme Court: Belize Gov Offshore Oil Contracts Null And Void
[click to view]

[click to view]

Belize Drops Proposal for Offshore Oil Drilling on World’s Second Largest Barrier Reef
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Voice of the People (Oil Exploration in Belize Referendum)
[click to view]

[click to view]

Oceana-Belize says continue discussion on offshore oil exploration
[click to view]

Belize: Between Oil and Tourism
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Grettel Navas, Fundación Neotrópica
Last update18/08/2019
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